An event tinged with a lot of general sadness, apparently the date at the Royal Albert Hall was booked way before Pete Shelley’s demise. They turned it into a memorial celebration and I guess most people wondered how they would replace that very distinctive voice.
Before getting onto that some words about the supports. First were” Penetration “who I only saw for the first time last year supporting at Brixton academy. I thought they were good and they had some strong new material at that time. They were apparently travelling companions to the” Buzzcocks” back in the day and even recorded “Nostalgia “on their first album. The auditorium was already pretty busy by 7.30 and they kicked off proceedings manfully and womanly. On Friday however I think the PA had a different world view as the sound was not great and the lost a bit of impact as they played their set. A few diehards in the mosh pit reacted suitably but I felt based a bit on the occasion it wasn’t clear if you should really enjoy yourself.
Bursting onto the stage next were “Skids”. It was clear from talking to few many had primarily come to see these guys and there were plenty of Scottish accents sitting in my vicinity as well as give away “Skids” T shirts.
I’ve never seen the “Skids” although I bought a number of the early singles. They were a bit polished for my tastes back in the 70’s but there songs have stood the test of time quite brilliantly. You could certainly envisage that if they were a new band now, with modern production, they could still cut it with those songs. Many are what you could call the hardy perennials but they still sound fresh and they saved “Into the valley” until the end and it received the biggest reaction.
They also enjoyed in my opinion the best sound mix of the night. The band were tight and Richard Jobson (58) bounced around the stage from start to finish. Not so many high kicks (and not so high) but fair play. He clearly likes to keep in shape and removing his jacket after the first few songs he looked like the poster boy for a Charles Atlas course (showing my age there).
About 9.20 it was time for “Buzzcocks” now led by Steve Diggle. They launched into the first few songs as per set list below and then enlisted the help of a myriad of guests, some you might expect and other like Tim Burgess who I wouldn’t have guessed. In reality Tim actually did one of the better renditions, since at the end of the day Pete Shelley had a voice that is difficult to replicate.
And that will be one of the challenges going forward, as Steve Diggle vowed to keep the songs alive, my assumption was that this would be the last outing for the “Buzzcocks”. The sound quality was bad with the signature guitar sound suffering the most. As implied some of the guest vocalists were not 100% matched to the songs and it was unclear how much rehearsal had been taken. To be fair it has to be quite daunting to take on someone else’s songs when they were so personal.
They finished with the iconic “Ever fallen in love” but I would suggest all their major singles have the same song writing quality and the song was actually spoilt for me by the “Fine Young Cannibals “version.
I left slightly subdued I have to say as it was definitely in memory of a sad day for music of a certain generation. “Skids” were a very belated revelation for me and we will have to see how the “Buzzcocks “deal with the situation they find themselves.
Buzzcocks at Royal Albert Hall set list:
‘Why she’s a Girl from the Chainstore’
‘Boredom’ (w/ Captain Sensible)
‘Love You More’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Pauline Murray)
‘Why Can’t I Touch It?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Peter Perrett)
‘Fiction Romance’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Richard Jobson)
‘What Do I Get?’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)
‘Something’s Gone Wrong Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Dave Vanian)
‘Time’s Up’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Thurston Moore)
‘Noise Annoys’ (w/ Thurston Moore)
‘Sixteen Again’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)
‘You Say You Don’t Love Me’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey & Tim Burgess)
‘Harmony in My Head’
‘I Don’t Mind’ (w/ John Maher, Steve Garvey)
‘Ever Fallen in Love’ (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)